CHECKLISTS

Timothy and Titus – Inconspicuous Leadership

1 Timothy 5 checklistI am a list maker…even in retirement from my secular work. For me, what doesn’t get listed, doesn’t get done. It is also very rewarding for me to check that item off the list when it is accomplished. The list has a progression of priorities. One task cannot happen until another task is completed. And so life goes with my lists guiding my behavior and productivity.

As I journal each morning in my conversational prayer with God, the Father, His Spirit guides me to make another list that helps me to mature and grow in Him. I am convicted of some of those “fruits of the Spirit” that I have not tended to or cultivated, have ignored or left undone. His Holy Spirit redirects my thoughts and helps me form a list of tasks that will help me improve my behavior. “Keep a close check on yourself”, writes Paul to Timothy. For me, that means to make a spiritual checklist that keeps me in close contact with the will and purpose of our Father, God and helps me to grow closer to Him.

We can do nothing of significance without God. I am convinced that He guides us to all things that are good for our growth and aid our learning about Him and how He works. Paul also gives Timothy sound advice about how to treat those whom God has called to lead with character traits with another list of how to lead. This list still applies to us today. The theme of this episode seems to be; Know God, Know Yourself, Know The Message, Know Your Audience. Our deeds, good and bad, will be evident. Be driven by God’s love in us.

1 Timothy 5, The Message

17-18 Give a bonus to leaders who do a good job, especially the ones who work hard at preaching and teaching. Scripture tells us, “Don’t muzzle a working ox” and “A worker deserves his pay.”

19 Don’t listen to a complaint against a leader that isn’t backed up by two or three responsible witnesses.

20 If anyone falls into sin, call that person on the carpet. Those who are inclined that way will know right off they can’t get by with it.

21-23 God and Jesus and angels all back me up in these instructions. Carry them out without favoritism, without taking sides. Don’t appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily. If a person is involved in some serious sins, you don’t want to become an unwitting accomplice. In any event, keep a close check on yourself. And don’t worry too much about what the critics will say. Go ahead and drink a little wine, for instance; it’s good for your digestion, good medicine for what ails you.

24-25 The sins of some people are blatant and march them right into court. The sins of others don’t show up until much later. The same with good deeds. Some you see right off, but none are hidden forever.

1 Timothy 5 check yourselfLEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE #6: Keep a Close Check on Yourself

Leadership Characteristics –

–Fully rely on God. Trust Him with all you are and all you have. We are His. All we have is His.
–Ask God “if there is anything offensive to you, cleanse me.” as the Psalmist prayed.
–Repent with a heart and mind not wanting to return to the old life.
–Look full into the face of Jesus, our Master, Lord and Savior with laser focus so we know what direction to take next.
–“Keep a close check on yourself.” Avoid, “he did it, I can, too” or “my sin is not as bad as his sin” or “everybody’s doing it” mentality.
–Ask God for wisdom, insight and understanding.
–Allow God’s transformation to continue in our lives.
–Ask God to make your lists of to BE and to DO. HE will prioritize your lists in ways you cannot imagine! Where He guides, He provides help all along the journey.
–Do all in a Spirit of love for God and others.
–Care enough to confront others with God’s love and concern for their spiritual well-being and growth.

Warning   The things on our spiritual check list can never be crossed off because we’ll be working on them our whole lives. By listing we are reminding ourselves of what we need to work on to “keep a close check” on our lives. It is only by The Atonement of Jesus Christ can we accomplish anything of eternal significance.

Dear Heavenly Father,
You have convinced me that we must do spiritual “business” with You each day to improve our being in You. Thank you for helping us on this journey. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit that points out things in our behavior that could cause us to crash…before crashing. Thank you for always being with us, guiding and directing, loving and protecting and challenging us to grow and bear Fruit. Continue to transform me. Transform your church. Transform the world through your church.
In Jesus Name, Amen

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WHAT GOOD IS IT?

Matthew – God’s Purposes
 
Matthew 6 God first
I developed the “cheesy smile” a long time ago as I worked for a non-profit that was always taking pictures to advertise all the good we were doing. There is nothing more uncomfortable for this slightly introverted person. So the cheesy smile was developed. It pleased the company but it was not my natural smile.
 
AND it goes deeper than that. I loved working for this company because of the opportunity to relate to kids, teaching them the joy of learning, challenging then with tasks most grownups would think impossible to learn while learning and growing myself. But those photo ops took away from the pleasure of seeing the look on a student’s face when they succeeded at a task or when they talked to their parents about what they learned. I realize the need for promotion in order to raise funds so we can keep doing good but it is also VERY important to keep our hearts pure in the process.
I know you all love the photos I’m sending back of our work here in Santa Cruz, which is only a small slice of life that is happening here, so I will keep doing that when I can, but know that our hearts are after pleasing God’s heart and purpose in all we think, do or say.
Jesus tells us exactly what we are talking about in the next few lessons. He clearly spells out what pleases God. He shows us God’s purposes and actions as we strive walk in God’s Kingdom living way. What good is it? It depends on our hearts.
 
Matthew 6, NKJV
 
Matthew 6 holyDo Good to Please God
6 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
 
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT: What is our heart’s motivation? Is it to please ourselves, to feel good about ourselves, or is all done with a heart’s desire to please God? What pleases God is doing a deed without thinking about what you will receive in return. What pleases God is to mature in our walk to the point of doing good naturally without thinking about it at all! That’s where I want to be.
 
Matthew 6 7The Model Prayer
5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
 
Matthew 6 prayer closet8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. 9 In this manner, therefore, pray:
 
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
 
14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
 
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT: Are my prayers sermons to be preached to those listening? That is just as hypocritical, as Jesus relates. Hypocrisy is “play acting”. Who are we trying to impress with our prayers? Do we realize Who we are talking to or are we talking to the air without a care to listen for God’s answers? Do we believe in the One we are praying to? Do we believe He will hear and answer with His best for us? Is all forgiven? Am I holding a grudge that keeps me less than forgiven by my Father in Heaven?
 
Matthew 6 prayer and fastingFasting to Be Seen Only by God
16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
 
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT: WHY do I fast? To lose weight or to keep myself hungry for more of God? Do I tell everyone about my “fasting” of a certain item by saying, “No I can’t have that, I’m fasting” so that we look more noble to others? Christians have a way of being very “holier than thou” at times, especially during “Lent”. We must be careful to keep fasting a secret. The time to fast doesn’t come from us, it must come as a directive from God. HE uses fasting as a way to get our attention. Food and other pleasures of life is not necessarily what He will use. It might be a “time out” from regular routines so that you and God can talk deeply and discover what is next for your journey.
 
Matthew 6 put God firstLay Up Treasures in Heaven
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
 
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT: Am I a loser? Am I willing to give up (lose, let go of) all things of earth for God’s best for me? Where is my heart? What condition is it in? Do I need a check up, spiritually? What am I building up that will be useful in heaven? WHO is my treasure?
 
Matthew 6 God's giving
This sums up all that Jesus is trying to explain about how to fulfill the Law of God in our hearts. Kingdom living that pleases God begins in our hearts.
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
Cleanse me. You know my every thought before it on my mind. You know my heart. You see behind the cheesy smile that reveals my true self. Show my the right way to go, the right words to say at the right time with a pure loving heart. I want what you want, dear Lord.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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FULFILLED BY LOVE

Matthew – God’s Purpose, God’s Law
 
Matthew 5 Kingdom Living
God’s Laws were given so that people would learn how to love Him first and then love others they way He loved us. They were given by God for His expressed purpose to protect his created and to keep them focused on Him. But, somehow over the ages, humans began writing addendums to God’s Law. Mankind decided he can improve what God put in motion. And that’s where the trouble begins.
 
God’s Law became corruptly translated and grossly twisted so that certain leaders could have and retain self-given power over God’s people. For example, if you drag a chair across a dirt floor on any given Sabbath day, you were charged with “work” because you furrowed the ground for possible planting. Wait, what?! Yes, this is only one example of many “laws” that plague God’s people.
 
God’s people were not only under the tyranny of the Roman Empire, but they were also under the tyranny of their religion. Then Jesus came…not to abolish God’s original Law of God’s best for His people, but to fulfill and explain the full extent of God’s Love and Law which leads to incredible relationship with God!
 
The “Sermon on the Mount”, as we call it, does just that. God’s One and Only Son, who is a part of God in a man’s body, (fully God and fully man) explains God’s purpose in His Law and how and why Jesus came to fulfill what God had intended for His created.
 
Matthew 5
 
Matthew 5 lawChrist Fulfills the Law
17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
 
matthew-5-different.jpgMurder Begins in the Heart
21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.
 
Matthew 5 phariseesAdultery in the Heart
27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
 
Marriage Is Sacred and Binding
31 “Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.
 
Jesus Forbids Oaths
33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.
 
Matthew 5 go the extra.jpgGo the Second Mile
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
 
Love Your Enemies
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
 
FROM THE HEART…
 
When you look at God’s Law from God’s perspective, through His eyes of unconditional, relentless love for His created, you see the Law in a different Light. You understand it in a deeper, driven by love, perspective. God wants a relationship with us that comes from a place of surrender of all our love for Him who loved us first.
 
God’s Law, (NOT unwritten and written churchy rules about things not of God’s Word) is simple, not easy, but simple. Love God with all your heart, mind and soul. Love others they way HE loves us.
 
Do we still have “addendums” to God’s Law in God’s church that we try to enforce that serve only the people who are in charge to keep being in charge?
 
Who is in charge?
 
Who should be in charge? Who drives God’s church?
 
Are our man-made laws and directives driven by God’s unconditional love and care for His own?
 
Matthew 5 perfect
These are real questions we should ask and ponder so that we do not fall into the habit and behaviors of Pharisees. The devil uses this power trip to trip people up in their faith. He has done it since Adam and will continue to use it. Beware.
 
Will we be perfect in the eyes of man or even us? No, but we are perfectly forgiven because of God’s love for us. When we repent we enter into a perfect relationship with our forgiving God. To be “perfect” is to be in relationship with our Perfect God who perfects us through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. Only by His blood, are we free to be in relationship with the One and Only God.
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
We are thankful that You sent Jesus to show and tell us what the intent of your Law really means and how to live it. There is nothing hidden or misunderstood in these words. Thank you for saving us from ourselves and the sins we have committed. Thank you for helping us to see Your Law through your eyes of love. Now, help us to live it by your power and love working in and through us.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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BLAND OR SALTY?

Matthew – God’s Purpose
 
Matthew 5 pour and turn on the light
I must confess, I am addicted to salty treats. I love the papas fritas here in Bolivia because of the right amount of salt on these crispy delights. My mouth waters getting ready for the flavor that will explode. Even the dried banana chips are salty with flavor. So, you can imagine my excitement when I discovered cashew nuts at the market the other day. I waited until I got home to taste our favorite salty nut of choice. Randy and I dove into the bag, threw some cashews into our mouth only to find they had NO salt on them whatsoever. What a disappointment! Still great looking, whole cashews on the outside, but no enticing salty flavor wrapped around them. Sigh. I haven’t touched them since that first bite. I am avoiding them altogether. I am saddened by the experience. (Smiling)
 
Jesus delivers a great example of how we are SUPPOSED to taste to the world of people around us seeking life.
 
Matthew 5 salt of the earthMatthew 5:13-16, NKJV
 
Believers Are Salt and Light
 
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
 
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
 
FROM THE HEART…
 
Matthew 5 saltWhat happens when we lose our saltiness? What causes this to happen in our lives? I am a “lifer” in God’s church. Here is what I have noticed and heard in God’s people who begin to lose their “salt” as their lights dim, causing people to avoid them:
1. Self becomes their focus. Are all my needs being met?
2. Since all my perceived needs are not being met I will tell you how we “used to do things around here”.
3. Why do I need to ask people to come with me to church, they know it’s here.
4. Why aren’t we singing what we used to sing?
5. Let’s just send a check to missions. We don’t need to go personally or get involved. There is too much work to be done here at home.
6. Give more? I’m giving all I want to give now.
7. Why must you always give an invitation to accept Jesus? We are all saved.
8. Tell those new Christians what to wear, how to speak and walk. They are not behaving like us. So, they are wrong.
 
I can’t go on, this list makes me too sad and heartbroken. You get the picture. Like the unsalted nuts that I am now avoiding because they aren’t salty enough, maybe we should do a reflect and quick check of our own saltiness to the world. How do we taste to the world? Bland or Salty? Is the world not listening to us and avoiding us all together because of our blandness? Yikes!
 
Matthew 5 Kingdom Living
Dear Heavenly Father,
I want to be sensationally salty to this world, seasoned heavily by You! Pour it on. I want what You want. Transform me to be all you intended and created me to be…then do. Invite me to join You in Your work to seek and save the lost who are without You.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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BLESSED!

Matthew – God’s Purpose and Law
Matthew 5 blessedWhen we are going through a tough time we seldom think first of how we are blessed, right? We think and see only what is in front of us. We don’t think beyond the present circumstance or how God will use our current situation to actually bless us. What if we change our thinking for a moment or two and assume that we are blessed? No matter what, God has blessed us.
 
These random thoughts come to me as we read and see Jesus, in our minds, take the multitude of people following him to a high mountainside so he can tell THEM just how blessed THEY are. From this lesson to them, maybe we can catch a glimpse of God’s blessings on us. Maybe we can begin this day, knowing we are blessed, live in gracious praise, always looking up (as the listeners on the mountainside) to the Master Teacher and learn what being blessed means to all of us.
 
Matthew 5:1-12, NKJV
 
Matthew 5 Kingdom LivingThe Beatitudes
 
And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
 
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 
Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
 
Matthew 5 blessed to be blessings
Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
 
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
 
Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
 
Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
 
matthew-5-filled.jpg
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
 
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
 
Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
 
FROM THE HEART…
 
Matthew 6 God's giving
Can you find yourself in one or more of these ways God has blessed? Camp on this all day long and meditate on God’s provisions, protection and blessings on top. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad…right now! We know the reward of heaven will come, but we can rejoice and be grateful right now. There is also a bonus…our attitude of blessing just might draw someone seeking to know Jesus to you. Be ready to tell them why you are blessed!
 
My dad’s heart condition warranted a pacemaker installed. In fact, in his lifespan, three more were installed when one failed. His favorite joke to the heart surgeon was, “Blessed are the pacemakers, for they shall see tomorrow!”
 
I will close with that for now. Pray for Randy and I and many others on the field here in Santa Cruz, Bolivia as we battle the remains of the flu virus. The work will go on. Pray for our full physical strength to return. We are blessed! God is with us. God is providing. Blessed are we who believe, follow, trust and obey! (For there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.)
 
Thank you, Heavenly Father. Just thank you!
In Jesus Name, Amen
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HIS FAME WAS IN HIS TOUCH

Matthew – God’s Purpose and Law
 
Matthew 4 His touch
When someone gets our attention with a new song or a new way of doing life we begin to follow their news feed, dig into their story of where they came from and then get information on where this person will be so we can meet them. In our world of social media, the word about a person can be passed around the world in a matter of seconds. We feel we know them before we meet them because of all that has been said about them.
 
Jesus does not have cameras following his every move. He did, however, have an advance man, John the Baptist, who faithfully and passionately told people The ONE they had been waiting for was coming who would save the world. He also had the “social media” of the day…word of mouth. One person telling another person who told another person about who Jesus is, how He touches lives, brings healing and knows how to speak Truth in ways “we have never heard”.
 
Matthew 4 healing of her sonImagine the scene. Someone in your family was born with a debilitating illness. You hear that there is Someone who can merely touch them and make them completely well. Wouldn’t you do anything and everything to get your loved one to this Person? You want to find out more.
 
“Are you sure?”, you might ask. “It will be hard and painful to move my son but I will do what it takes if you know He can heal Him.”
 
“I am sure”, says your friend, “Jesus did for me, I know He will do it for your son.” Other friends join in the conversation. “Come with us, we will help you get your son to Jesus.”
 
Jesus fame spread because of one person telling another person who Jesus is, what He was doing and saying and how deeply He touched their lives.
 
Matthew 4:22-25, NKJV
 
Matthew 4 Jesus heals
Jesus Heals a Great Multitude
 
And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. Great multitudes followed Him—from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.
 
“Thank you for helping me get my son to Jesus!”, the woman shouted to her friends over the crowd of people. “I owe you my life and the life of my son.” “I owe Jesus everything!” Her son was fully healed.
 
Matthew 4 healing joy
They left the multitude of people still shouting Jesus’ Name and walked home together after their encounter with Jesus. “Did you see the way He looked at me, mom?” “I felt His eyes go right through me. I felt his touch from the inside out!” “I can’t wait to tell my friends what Jesus did for me.” “I want to sing, shout, dance and praise God all at the same time!” His mom lovingly put her arms around her son and hugged him tightly. There were no more words to be said. Her son was healed. Life restored all because of this man called Jesus.
 
Matthew 4 Jesus touch of help
Dear Heavenly Father,
This is only the beginning of the story of You and how you lovingly sent Your Son to seek and to save, heal and restore the broken, and make new creations out of all of us. Oh, how I love you, dear Jesus. Oh, how I praise you for making me new with each new day I walk with You. You are Truth, the Only Way to God and You are Life. Continue to transform me to be all You intended and created me to be…then do with You.
In Jesus Name, Amen
 
AND let’s sing….
 
You were the Word at the beginning
One With God the Lord Most High
Your hidden glory in creation
Now revealed in You our Christ
 
What a beautiful Name it is
What a beautiful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King
What a beautiful Name it is
Nothing compares to this
What a beautiful Name it is
The Name of Jesus
 
You didn’t want heaven without us
So Jesus, You brought heaven down
My sin was great, Your love was greater
What could separate us now
 
What a wonderful Name it is
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King
What a wonderful Name it is
Nothing compares to this
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus
 
How sweet is your name, Lord, how good You are
Love to sing in the name of the Lord, love to sing for you all?
 
Death could not hold You, the veil tore before You
You silenced the boast, of sin and grave
The heavens are roaring, the praise of Your glory
For You are raised to life again
You have no rival, You have no equal
Now and forever, Our God reigns
Yours is the Kingdom, Yours is the glory
Yours is the Name, above all names
 
What a powerful Name it is
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King
What a powerful Name it is
Nothing can stand against
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus
 
You have no rival, You have no equal
Now and forever, Our God reigns
Yours is the Kingdom, Yours is the glory
Yours is the Name, above all names
 
What a powerful Name it is
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King
What a powerful Name it is
Nothing can stand against
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus
 
Songwriters: Brooke Ligertwood / Ben Fielding
What A Beautiful Name lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group
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TAG, YOU’RE IT!

Matthew – God’s Purpose
 
Matthew 3 repent
As we read let us always remember the story of Jesus doesn’t begin with Jesus. God had been at work for a long time. Salvation, which is the main business of Jesus, is an old business. Jesus is the coming together in final form of themes and energies and movements that had been set in motion before the foundation of the world.
 
Matthew opens the New Testament by setting the local story of Jesus in its world historical context. He makes sure that as we read his account of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we see the connections with everything that has gone before. “Fulfilled” is one of Matthew’s characteristic verbs: such and such happened “that it might be fulfilled.” Jesus is unique, but he is not odd.
 
Matthew 3 Kingdom of GodBetter yet, Matthew tells the story in such a way that not only is everything previous to us completed in Jesus; WE are completed in Jesus! Every day we wake up in the middle of something that is already going on, that has been going on for a long time: genealogy and geology, history and culture, the cosmos–GOD. We are neither accidental nor incidental to the story. We get orientation, briefing, background, reassurance.
 
Matthew provides the comprehensive context by which we see all God’s creation and salvation completed in Jesus, and all the parts of our lives–work, family, friends, memories, dreams–also completed in Jesus. Lacking such a context, we are in danger of serving Jesus as a mere diversion from the concerns announced in the news and social media. Nothing could be further from the truth.
 
Now, with these thoughts embedded in our minds, let’s read the beginning of Jesus ministry according to Matthew.
 
Jesus Begins His Galilean Ministry
12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
 
Matthew 4 Jesus15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles:
16 The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death
Light has dawned.”
 
17 From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
 
Matthew 4 fishersFour Fishermen Called as Disciples
18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.
 
21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.
 
FROM THE HEART…
 
Matthew 4 tag.pngTAG is a child’s game that requires no parts or electronics…only your body. T-A-G are initials for “touch and go”. When we play the game of TAG, the goal for the leader is to touch another person who will now become “it” so they can “touch” someone else. Jesus was now “it”. He began to preach, like John, with the same message, telling people what they must do to come back to God. Jesus began to touch people with the news, “The Kingdom of God is at hand!”, who was standing right in front of them! He also, like John, told them that if they repent of their sins, they will see and hear from God again.
 
Matthew 4 leftJesus then shows us a great example of leadership 101 by tagging others to tell God’s story of repent and be saved. Because Jesus touched a lot of lives, becoming very popular as He moved about the region, those who were “tagged” with “Follow Me” quickly left normal life for a life with Jesus. They knew him and watched him at work. They left their work to follow him in His work.
 
Down through the ages, we come to today. We are called, as believers who have been saved by grace, to touch others with the love of Christ who lives in us. Jesus is still touching lives today. TAG, YOU’RE IT! Tell the story! Someone else needs to be tagged, touched and reconciled to God through Jesus! Touch and go, keep moving in His Holy Spirit, for there are so many to tell of the marvelous, wonderful love of Christ! The Kingdom of God lives in us! All the equipment you need is Jesus. It’s not a game, it’s a matter of life or death.
 
Matthew 4 follow.jpgDear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for tagging and touching us with your relentless love, mercy and grace. Give us boldness with the right words to say for today as we tag and touch someone else who needs you.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.
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OVERCOMERS!

Matthew – God’s Purpose and Law
 
Matthew tempted
“The devil made me do it!” This saying was made famous by a comedian, Flip Wilson, many years ago. We laughed when he did his skit and then ended it with this proclamation as if that exonerated all his mistakes and wrongdoings in life. Do we do that? Do we blame the devil for falling for the same temptations over and over again? Do we need help? YES! If we want to grow beyond whatever the devil (yes, he’s real) dishes out, tempting us to turn away from God’s best for us, then we need to follow the example of Jesus Christ…who knew no sin. He is Truth and is our Perfect Example.
 
Read Matthew 4: 1-11 and discover the steps Jesus took to combat Satan, the one who desires to take us away from God. Know your enemy. To know him and his tricks , used since the beginning with Adam and Eve is the frist step in overcoming your enemy. Do not give any glory to your enemy by giving in to your enemy. If Satan tries to go after the Son of God, don’t think for a minute he won’t come after you, one of God’s children.
 
Matthew 4: 1-11, NKJV
Satan Tempts Jesus
 
Matthew 4 breadThen Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
 
4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”
 
Matthew 4 high
5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:
 
‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’
and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”
 
7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ”
 
8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
 
10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”
 
11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
 
FROM THE HEART…
 
Did you read and understand how Jesus, Son of God, overcame his aggressor and arch enemy? Let’s really dig in and follow Jesus’ example.
 
Matthew 4 led1. JESUS WAS LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD within Him.
There are times when the Spirit of God will lead us to a challenging, difficult place to grow in our relationship with Him but He does not lead us to sin. It is in this desert place of quiet that we get to know God intimately and learn to depend on Him exclusively. It is also in this very place where Satan shows up with the only tricks he knows. Self satisfaction. Jesus knew him well. Jesus knew his schemes. Jesus was ready for him.
 
KNOW GOD! WALK IN HIS HOLY SPIRIT!
2. SATAN TEMPTS US WHEN WE ARE WEAK
Jesus was preparing himself for God’s revolutionary mission assignment of seeking and saving lost people and bringing them back to God. He fasted for forty days and nights in preparation. He is physically weak from hunger but Spiritually strong.
 
Since Jesus is very hungry, Satan reminds Jesus who He is and what Jesus can do as if He didn’t know. He is actually mocking Jesus when he tells him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” This plays out in our lives of being leaders in the church. We can be tempted to use our influence in ways to gratify or lift up ourselves. This “fall” to self and temptation of evil is not tolerated by God. Falling to self will bring great ministries to a screeching halt. KNOW the enemy. Know his tireless schemes. Know that if he tempted Jesus, Son of God, he will certainly tempt you. We are not immune from it. If fact we who are faithful and strong are prime targets.
 
KNOW THE ENEMY.
 
Matthew 4 away3. JESUS KNEW THE WORD OF GOD AND KNEW WHEN TO USE IT. Do we know what God says so we can repeat with conviction and clarity as we combat this same enemy? God will help us to know His Word and know when to use it to our advantage against evil. His Holy Spirit will tell us exactly what to say when. God’s Holy Spirit helps us to know and understand God’s Word. David says, “Thy Word have I hid in my heart so that I might not sin against you.” Paul told new Christians, saved by grace though the blood of Jesus, to “Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Don’t leave home without His Word in your heart, mind and soul.
 
KNOW GOD’S WORD.
 
4. JESUS KNEW WHO HE WAS. Jesus did not have to be told by Satan who He was, is and is to come. Satan taunted Jesus with “IF you are the Son of God…” use your power to do what you want. Sometimes we are mocked with words that are similar, “If you are such a good Christian then….” Don’t fall for that bait. We know as followers we are perfect, just perfectly forgiven. We also know we are a work in progress until we see our Savior face to face. Until we do, we live joyfully at peace because we know we are redeemed, not by what we do but by what Jesus did for us on the cross, going to hell and back for us, defeated death by rising from the grave once and for all! When we repented of our sin, amazing grace took over.
 
KNOW YOURSELF! WE ARE REDEEMED PEOPLE!
 
“Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”
 
Matthew 4 devil left“Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.”
 
We are never left alone to fight this battle. We face two choices every day of our lives. Do we follow self gratification which is presented to us in a variety of ways by Satan. OR do we choose Life in Jesus Christ? Choose well. Be informed. We are Overcomers with Jesus Christ our Savior AND our Lord!  “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  (James 4:7)  That’s a promise!
 
Thank you, dear Jesus for this perfect example and your forever help! In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe!
 
And we’re singing…Overcomer by Mandisa
 
Staring at a stop sign
Watching people drive by
T mac on the radio
Got so much on your mind
Nothing’s really going right
Looking for a ray of hope
 
Whatever it is you may be going through
I know he’s not gonna let it get the best of you
You’re an overcomer
Stay in the fight ’til the final round
You’re not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
 
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it’s hopeless
That’s when he reminds you
That you’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer
 
Everybody’s been down
Hit the bottom, hit the ground
Ooh, You’re not alone
Just take a breath, don’t forget
Hang on to his promises
He wants you to know
 
You’re an overcomer
Stay in the fight ’til the final round
You’re not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it’s hopeless
That’s when he reminds you
That you’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer
 
The same man, the great I am
The one who overcame death
Is living inside of you
So just hold tight, fix your eyes
On the one who holds your life
There’s nothing he can’t do
He’s telling you
 
You’re an overcomer
Stay in the fight ’til the final round
You’re not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it’s hopeless
That’s when he reminds you
That you’re an overcomer
 
You’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer
 
See don’t quit, don’t give in
You’re an overcomer
Don’t quit, don’t give in
You’re an overcomer
 
Don’t quit, don’t give in
You’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer
Songwriters: Benjamin Glover / Christopher E. Stevens / David Arthur Garcia
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